Simple/Difficult things

There's a thing. A taking-apart-and-putting-back-together thing. It's been hovering at the edges for a few years, but it feels like it's getting closer, more present.

I can't decide whether it's a positive 'all things are the sum of their parts' thing, or a negative 'we are all fragmenting' thing... Either way, there are a number of people making  work that seems to live in this space. It's a style of work I really enjoy, a kind of simple/difficult thing; you get it, it's accessible, but it also has a heft to it, a weight at the bottom of it that spins it off onto a slightly less familiar trajectory.

There's two projects I want to flag up, firstly Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg (HintFM) with Art of Reproduction from 2011 and secondly Pep Ventosa's work in a number of different projects, including The Collective Snapshot.

I'm including a few images from the Art of Reproduction project and extracts from their methodology below, but please explore both their and Pep Ventosa's work further on their sites. 

 26 Danaes  Danaë  Klimt - by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg

26 Danaes Danaë Klimt - by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg

The web can seem like the perfect museum, holding all the world’s art. Type “Danae Klimt” into your favorite search engine, and you conjure up a high-resolution image of Gustav Klimt’s Danaë: tan limbs, a shower of gold, red hair.

Or did you find pink limbs? Or were they gray or even green? There’s the rub: the seemingly perfect museum holds dozens of Danaës—with dozens of different palettes. Even the shape changes as reproductions are subtly cropped.

Curious just how far reproductions stray from each other, we began an investigation. (Go directly to the results if you like.) For a set of famous artworks, we downloaded all the plausible copies we could find. Then we wrote software to reconstruct each artwork as a mosaic, a patchwork quilt where each patch comes from an individual copy. By juxtaposing the fragments of the reproductions we visualize their discrepancies